“Shouldn’t be doing that in public”, “A disgrace”, “There’s people trying to eat here”, “She should go to the bathroom if she want’s to do that”: All statements that London native Claire Harding is all too familiar with, as people see her nursing a child to her breast in public. Last Saturday was no different as Claire sat on a bench in Hyde Park with her blouse open, listening to passers-by mutter under their breath with the same old complaint: she shouldn’t be breastfeeding in public.
But Saturday was the day that Claire finally snapped, maybe it was the young couple who tutted loudly, maybe it was the middle-aged man who muttered “should be ashamed of yourself”, but Claire had finally had enough. The 26 year-old stood up in the middle of the park, removed her top and showed the world what she had to deal with on a daily basis.
Attached to Claire’s left breast was not a suckling baby, but her parasitic twin brother, which never developed outside the womb. Merging with the mammary, his shrivelled body only visible from the shoulders down, the incomplete foetus which Claire has carried around her whole life made the people who had only minutes before criticised the young woman stop and re-assess their cruel and thoughtless remarks.
Parasitic twins occur in utero in much the same fashion as regular twins, although one embryo becomes dominant over the other and absorbs it over the nine month gestation period. Should the conjoined foetus fail to be completely absorbed by the dominant twin, it can be born incompletely formed and dependent on the complete infant. In Claire’s case, her conjoined twin joined her right at the boob, causing people to mistake her for a breastfeeding mother all the time.
“People think I’m just some freak breastfeeding her child in public, but I’m just a normal woman with a parasitic twin growing on my boob,” said the fed-up Claire, when she had calmed down a bit.
“Everyone feels like they have a right to voice their opinion on breastfeeding mothers, who in turn have become more determined to feed their children in public without feeling like they owe anyone an explanation. And in the middle are people like me, people who have malformed conjoined siblings attached headfirst to their breasts, caught in the middle of it all. I’m sick of it”.
Claire went on to urge everyone to stop for a moment and consider the fact that the woman that they took a sneak pic of and posted on Twitter with the hashtag “InPublicGross” after spotting her on the train feeding her baby may actually be a woman with a parasitic twin, just trying to live a normal life without everyone treating her like some sort of monster.